Film Review: The Professor

Writer-director Wayne Roberts’ The Professor is an uneven comedy drama. The film is not memorable viewing. 

After he is diagnosed with terminal cancer, university lecturer Richard must face his own mortality. He decides to live his remaining days to the fullest, ruffling feathers amongst family, colleagues, and students…

With The Professor, writer and director Roberts gets to the crux very quickly. Viewers are immediately given Richard’s prognosis and the decision he takes within the opening few minutes of the film. From here the narrative concentrates on Richard’s attempts to live life to the maximum, and the fallout from this. The Professor may have been a more intriguing film with a different protagonist. 

As it stands, Richard is a staid main character; appearing almost as if out of a different era. His views and treatment of women is lamentable. In this era of calling out inappropriate behaviour, a protagonist such as this seems like an anachronism. Moreover, the character is very privileged. At one point Richard mentions that he cannot be fired, thanks to his tenure. Whilst recent films and television shows have focused on privileged characters in a nuanced and interesting way (Big Little Lies springs to mind), this isn’t the case here. Instead, Richard relies upon position in a way that is less than endearing. 

As the film progresses, the tone shifts to melodrama as the protagonist and his loved ones face the reality of the situation. There is a pivotal scene in which Richard addresses an audience of colleagues and friends. Roberts seemingly aims for weight here, but the emotional pull is not present. The Professor does not easily do humour or emotion. Earlier barbs from the protagonist are hit and miss, while later scenes do not pack a dramatic punch. 

At first glance, it seems a welcome change to see Johnny Depp in a pared back role. Yet with his heavy drinking and increasing zeal, Richard is not so unlike other Depp depictions. Danny Huston is good in a small role, while Rosemarie DeWitt is underused. The rich autumnal tones very in keeping with the setting. 

Fundamentally, the film relies on its protagonist, yet presents one who feels out of time. The Professor does not offer the career resurgence for Depp that his fans may hope for. 

The Professor is available on DVD and Digital HD from24th June 2019.

Previews: Creed II Trailer, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, More!

Some hotly-anticipated films in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the brand new Creed II trailer, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, First Man, and more…

Creed II Trailer

The new Creed II trailer was released today. The sequel to the very successful Creed, the film sees Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson returning. They are joined by Dolph Lundgren, who reprises his role as the iconic Ivan Drago. Steven Caple Jr. takes over director duties from Ryan Coogler, who stays on as an executive producer. Creed II will hit UK cinemas on 30th November 2018.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Poster

We are finally getting a look at the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The film reunites the X-Men: Days of Future Past cast, including Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence. The cast also includes the new addition of Jessica Chastain. The film is the directorial debut of Simon Kinberg, writer of the previous two X-Men films. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be be released in cinemas next year.

First Man Featurette

Above is a featurette on Damien Chapelle’s latest, First Man. Chazelle reunites with his La La Land lead actor Ryan Gosling in this story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon. The film also stars Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, and Kyle Chandler. Written by Josh Singer, First Man launches on to UK screens on 12th October 2018.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald Trailer

Above is the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald. The film is a sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Johnny Depp, and Ezra Miller return, and are joined by Jude Law. Based on a screenplay by J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald will be released in UK cinemas on 16th November 2018.

Previews: Game Night Trailer, The Post, More!

Lots of cinematic wonder in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Game Night trailer, The Post, Sherlock Gnomes, and more…

Game Night Trailer

Here is the new Game Night trailer. The film is about a group of friends who get together for a game night which becomes a murder mystery party. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Kyle Chandler. Game Night is scheduled for release in cinemas on 4th May 2018.

The Post Trailer

The trailer for The Post exudes quality. The film features a stellar cast and crew, and focuses on team behind the The Washington Post taking a stand for free speech during the Nixon administration. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is written by Josh Singer and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson. The Post is released in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

The Greatest Showman Poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming The Greatest Showman. The musical is all about the spectacle, focusing on the ambition of P.T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman heads the cast, and is joined by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. Featuring music from the Oscar-winning Pasek and Paul (La La Land), The Greatest Showman hits UK screens on 1st January 2018.

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

Sherlock Gnomes is a follow-up to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. The film sees the couple arrive in London and enlist the help of the famous detective to find out who is kidnapping garden gnomes. The adventure comedy features the voices of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Johnny Depp, Maggie Smith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Sherlock Gnomes is set for release next year.

The Commuter Image

Here is a new look at the upcoming action thriller The Commuter. The film stars Liam Neeson as an insurance salesman who is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger before the train reaches its final stop. Neeson is joined by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill. The Commuter arrives in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

Previews: Murder on the Orient Express Poster, More!

A cornucopia of film related goodness in this week’s preview, including the new Murder on the Orient Express poster, Flatliners, Early Man, and more…

Murder on the Orient Express Poster

Here is the brand new Murder on the Orient Express poster. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the film is based on the classic Agatha Christie novel. Branagh also stars and has assembled a stellar cast; Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Johnny Depp to name a few. Murder on the Orient Express hits UK screens in November 2017.

Flatliners Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for the new Flatliners film. The film is about a group of medical students who experiment by stopping their hearts temporarily. Starring Ellen Page and Diego Luna, Flatliners will be released in UK cinemas on 29th September 2017.

Early Man Trailer

Early Man is the latest film from Nick Park. The film is about two cavemen who unite their tribe against a mighty enemy. The voice cast features a wealth of British talent, including Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, and Timothy Spall. Early Man is set for release in UK cinemas on 26th January 2018.

Daddy’s Home 2 Trailer

The sequel to Daddy’s Home sees the protagonists’ fathers appear for Christmas vacation. Mel Gibson and John Lithgow join the returning cast, headed by Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell. Daddy Home 2 will hit the big screen later this year.

Mudbound Trailer

Mudbound has received critical acclaim since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Dee Rees, the film is about an unlikely friendship between a black soldier and a white soldier when they return from war. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, and Jason Mitchell. Mudbound is screening at the BFI London Film Festival in October, and will launch on Netflix and selected cinemas on 17th November 2017.

Previews: Dunkirk Poster, Baby Driver, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the latest Dunkirk poster, plus Baby Driver, American Made, and more…

Dunkirk Poster

Here is the latest Dunkirk poster. Writer-director Christopher Nolan turns his attention to the war movie, after excelling in a number of other genres. The film stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and Kenneth Branagh. Dunkirk hits cinema and IMAX screens on 21st July 2017.

Baby Driver Clip

This clip sheds light on the central character in Edgar Wright’s upcoming Baby Driver. Starring Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, and Lily James, the film is about a getaway driver who wishes to leave his criminal life behind. Baby Driver is out in UK cinemas on 28th June 2017.

American Made Trailer

Tom Cruise reunites with Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman for American Made. The film is based on the real-life exploits of pilot Barry Seal, who is recruited by the CIA to run a covert operation. Also starring Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, and Caleb Landry Jones, American Made is due for release on 25th August 2017.

Goodbye Christopher Robin Poster

Here is the new poster for Goodbye Christopher Robin. The film is based on the family who created one of the world’s most beloved bear, Winnie the Pooh. It revolves around the relationship between writer A.A. Milne and his son Christopher. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, and Kelly Macdonald, Goodbye Christopher Robin will be out in cinemas on 29th September 2017.

Murder on the Orient Express Trailer

This trailer for Murder on the Orient Express looks sumptuous. The film looks to have one of the most star-studded casts of the year, with Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Judi Dench among some of the passengers on the fateful train. Director Kenneth Branagh stars as famous detective Hercule Poirot; comparisons to David Suchet will be inevitable. Based on one of Agatha Christie’s most famous novels, Murder on the Orient Express is set for release on 3rd November 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers Ranked

Last night the Super Bowl took place. But more relevantly, some of the most anticipated movie trailers aired during the broadcast. Here are the Super Bowl 2017 trailers, ranked in the most subjective of manners…

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.10: Fast & Furious 8

This spot for Fast & Furious 8 displays the all-star cast of this sequel, but may give viewers a sense of déjà vu. The fast cars, the big set pieces; Fast & Furious 8 is definitely in the same mold as its many predecessors. The film is out on UK screens on 14th April 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.9: Ghost in the Shell

This Super Bowl spot for Ghost in the Shell was released a few days ago, so offers little in the way of surprise. The spot is swift and to the point, giving an indication of the style of the film and the setting. Ghost in the Shell hits UK screens on 31st March 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.8: Transformers: The Last Knight

This extended spot for Transformers: The Last Knight begins with the same voiceover as previous trailers for the film. This spot focuses on the spectacle of wide-scale destruction, images of Transformers only feature in the last few seconds. Transformers: The Last Knight hits the big screen in June 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.7: Baywatch

This spot for the Baywatch movie gives the briefest look at the characters in this remake of the television show. Wisely, the focus is on Dwayne Johnson, who plays Mitch Buchanan. Fans of the original show will be hoping for an affectionate but humorous tribute. Baywatch is out in UK cinemas on 31st May 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.6: Logan

This spot for the upcoming Logan shows viewers much of what has already been seen in previous trailers. However, as with previous trailers, the soundtrack game is strong, and the clips look interesting. With Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart reprising their roles, Logan launches on to UK screens on 3rd March 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.5: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

This extended spot for Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (known as Dead Men Tell No Tales in the US) focuses on supporting characters and spectacle, with Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow only making an appearance in the final few seconds. This is a smart move; with the exposure of the actor’s private life, and indeed backlash against recent performances, it is probably best to downplay his role. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is released in UK cinemas on 26th May 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.4: John Wick: Chapter Two

This spot for John Wick: Chapter Two riffs on its release date competition, Fifty Shades Darker. The focus of this trailer is rapid-fire action, unsurprisingly. It works very well. John Wick: Chapter Two is out on 17th February, with previews on Valentine’s Day.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.3: Life

The tv spot that aired during the Super Bowl 2017 can be seen here. Above is the full international trailer for Life, a sci-fi thriller, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds. The full trailer lulls viewers into a false sense of security, but it seems that Life is a pretty serious film. UK viewers see for themselves when the film hits UK screens on 24th February 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.2: A Cure For Wellness

A Cure for Wellness‘ TV spot takes the form of an American pharmaceutical advert. Given the premise of the film, it is most fitting. Gore Verbinski’s film looks aesthetically pleasing and narratively intriguing. Starring Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth, A Cure for Wellness is released in UK cinemas on 24th February 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers No.1: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

This extended spot for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has everything viewers would hope for from a preview of this film. A great soundtrack, wonderful visuals, a look at the film’s main characters, and sufficient humour. Baby Groot and co will return to UK screens on 28th April 2017.

Super Bowl 2017 Trailers Bonus: Stranger Things

Ok so Stranger Things is not a film, but it is so fantastic that I had to feature it. The first season was a glorious homage to Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg (and much more besides), and the second season seems to continue this tradition. This spot does not reveal much about the plot, but the kids are dressed as Ghostbusters. Stranger Things season 2 will be available on Netflix from Halloween.

Film Review: Alice Through The Looking Glass

Alice Through The Looking Glass

Alice Through The Looking Glass is a visually mesmerising film. James Bobin’s film lacks the fizz of Lewis Carroll’s original novel, but is entertaining nevertheless.

After adventures at sea, Alice makes an unexpected return to Wonderland. One of her treasured friends is in danger, Alice must acquire a device from the Lord of Time in order to put things right…

Screenwriter Linda Woolverton takes a different tact from Carroll’s novel with this sequel. Ardent fans of the book may not be pleased with this, but a traditional adaptation may not have worked well in feature-film format. Alice Through The Looking Glass functions well to provide a sense of adventure and peril.

Where the film falters is with its tone. Director James Bobin’s film misses the zaniness of the books, and indeed the first film. In its place, Alice Through The Looking Glass focuses on a more emotional idea. If this was another narrative, this would not necessarily have been an issue. For the Alice in Wonderland sphere however, this misses the absurdity of the source material which is so appealing. Less sentimentality and more off-beat action would have made the film more satisfying.

The new character of Lord of Time is a welcome addition to Alice Through The Looking Glass. Elsewhere, characters remain much the same as the first film. The Alice that returns to Wonderland is a much more mature and aware protagonist. This works well given the plot; there is less a sense of awe and more determination to complete her mission.

Sasha Baron Cohen delivers a jovial performance as Lord of Time. Mia Wasikowska reprises her role well, whilst Johnny Depp does his usual over the top schtick. Art direction in the film is fantastic.

Whilst the visuals certainly meet expectations, Alice Through The Looking Glass would have benefitted from more zaniness and less sentimentality. Notwithstanding, the film is perfectly enjoyable for those looking for adventure.